Author Topic: General Tech FAQ  (Read 2330 times)

Offline Flynn Arrowstarr

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General Tech FAQ
« on: February 18, 2017, 01:01:56 AM »
    General Tech FAQ

    While this is geared toward gaming in general, all questions in this FAQ can be applied to The Sims games.

    What's the difference between minimum and recommended requirements?
    • Minimum specs will get the game to load onto the computer, can play on low settings, but it won't play very well.
    • Recommended specs or better will not only load the game onto the computer, it will be able to be played on medium up to ultra settings (depending on game settings/preferences and system components). It will also be better at handling whatever downloadable content (DLC, expansions, etc.), custom content, mods and updates the game will receive.
    What is a DxDiag? How do you get it, and is it a privacy issue?

    What is a DxDiag
    How To: Find System Specs - Windows 10, 8 and 7
    Is DxDiag a privacy concern
    • Generally, no. The only privacy concern would be your computer name, which can easily be erased before posting.
    What are the CPU, motherboard, GPU, RAM, vRAM, SSD, DDR3/4/5?

    CPU: Central Processing Unit - aka the processor or the “brains” of the computer.

    Motherboard: Main circuit board of the system. Allows the CPU to access all the other components of the computer.

    GPU: Graphics Processing Unit - aka the graphic card or chip

    RAM: Random Access Memory - aka system memory. This is where applications and data are temporarily stored for quick access.

    vRAM: Video Random Access Memory - aka graphics memory. The GPU uses this much like applications use system memory. Typically much faster than system memory.

    SSD: Solid State Drive - aka flash storage. Uses banks of “non-volitile” (or permanent) memory to store programs and data. Much faster than a traditional hard drive.

    DDR 3/4: These are the two most common types of system memory. DDR3 is also used in some laptops for dedicated graphics memory. In general, DDR 4 memory is used in newer computers and is faster than the older DDR3 memory.

    GDDR 5: This is the most common type of graphics memory and is used in gaming graphics cards, such as the nVidia GTX and AMD RX 400 series cards. It is much faster than DDR3 and DDR 4 memory.

    Which drive is my SSD? I assumed it would be the D drive.
    • It really depends on how the system was set up. For example if you bought the computer with both the SSD and hard drive (HD) pre-installed, the SSD would most likely be the C drive and the HD would be the D drive.
    What is an integrated card and why is dedicated better?
    • Integrated graphics are usually part of the CPU. They have fewer features and no vRAM. Instead it uses system memory for graphics memory which leaves less overall memory for your programs and data.
    • Dedicated graphics cards are much more powerful (depending on the card) and contain faster dedicated vRAM for handling the complex mathematics necessary for gaming.
    Why do laptops cost more than desktops for similar power?

    Mostly due to the mobility and smaller components, not to mention batteries. Partly because there’s more demand for laptops. Other factors include differences in manufacturing needed to produce CPUs and GPUs that draw less power and generate less heat than the equivalent desktop components.

    Can I upgrade a laptop?

    Usually memory and drives can be changed out for new ones, but not CPUs or graphics cards. Occasionally, wireless and bluetooth cards can also be replaced. Rarely, some expensive laptops can change out graphics cards. And some can make use of external desktop graphics cards, but again this is extremely expensive and quite rare.

    Why am I asked what case or motherboard I have when I'm upgrading?

    This is usually asked when people are looking to upgrade their existing computer. Computers from the major manufacturers (e.g. Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.) will often make use custom components like power supplies that cannot be easily replaced. Or the case may not allow for standard size cards (like graphics cards) to be used - these are commonly referred to as Small Form Factor (SFF) cases.

    For motherboards, it helps to know the model as it allows someone helping out to know what type of processor can be installed, or how much memory it can take and what type of memory. And it can help determine what else can be upgraded, such as type of video card or other expansion cards.

    Why is it recommended to get better than the recommended level specs for the game?

    The farther the computer is above the recommended specs for a game, the better overall experience while playing the game. This includes improvements to the game’s speed, resolution, overall graphical look, etc. For instance, there is a big difference between playing a game at 1024x768 at low settings, vs. playing at 1920x1080 with all the settings maximized.

    How can I tell if my computer is getting too hot?

    It is important that the computer doesn’t get too hot as it can cause physical damage to its parts. Most modern computers have sensors that can be read through software to keep track of the temperature. If the system doesn’t have software provided to read these sensors, programs such as Speccy can read these sensors and display the temperature for the CPU, memory, graphics cards and hard drives.

    What's a cooling pad?

    Cooling pads, or cooling mats, are fans that blow cool air at the bottom of your laptop in order to help prevent a laptop from overheating. They come in a wide variety of types and features, such as adjustable angles of elevation, USB hubs and multiple fans.

    In order for these to be effective, however, the laptop needs to have vents on the bottom panel so the air can flow directly over the components. Unibody laptops, such as the MacBook Air from Apple, may not receive much benefit from a cooling mat.

    How do I clean out a case?

    Caution: Before touching any internal part of a computer, make sure you are well-grounded. Static discharge can damage your computer! Touching metal not attached to the computer can safely discharge any static in your system. There are also grounding straps available that can help.

    Cans of compressed air can be purchased from many office supply and computer hobby shops. A number of department stores may also carry these if they carry electronic equipment. Usually it will include a thin plastic straw taped to the side of the can.

    Assuming a desktop computer, open the computer’s case (might need a screwdriver or similar tool) and lay the computer on it’s side with the motherboard at the bottom. Attach the straw to the nozzle of the can, then trigger the can so it sprays across the motherboard. Use short bursts to help prevent too much condensation on the electronics inside.

    Using a non-static microfiber cloth, gently wipe any dust buildup from the drives and bottom of the case. Once the components are sufficiently cleaned, replace the cover and you’re all set.

    Why do the salespeople at (whatever store) sometimes recommend inadequate computers for games?

    Salespeople usually receive little to no training on the products they sell. So unless the salesperson is passionate about the subject, they are often pressured into pushing customers toward certain items that the main office wants moved, or items that will net them more commission. Also, there are some salespeople that will try to bully the customer into buying something that may not meet their needs for the above reasons. And there are extremely knowledgeable salespeople that are genuinely helpful.* :)

    It is in your best interest to research what you want and don’t let the salesperson try to persuade you otherwise - unless you know it is a better system. And just be aware that the cheap laptop special is not going to play even casual games at any decent settings. These computers are strictly designed to be disposable light office work, Internet surfing or student computers. In the United States at this time, it is very difficult to find a capable laptop for gaming in a physical store, for example. Online sites such as Newegg and Amazon offer a much wider selection.

    Keep a realistic budget in mind: about $700 - $1,300 USD for a desktop or $1,000 - $1,500 for a laptop. For desktops, consider shopping for a do-it-yourself system as you can generally get the components you want. Computer manufacturers (Dell, Lenovo, etc.) tend to use lesser quality desktop components to save money - particularly the power supply is typically under powered or cheaply made. If you’re not comfortable building the system yourself, there are shops that can help with building what you want, or you can ask a tech friend to help you out.

    Hope this helps and happy Simming! 8)

    Flynn & MrsFlynn

    * It is not our intention to insult salespeople. Having worked in retail sales with both good and bad experiences, the pressure to improve sales can be constant. Especially where quotas and performance-based commissions are involved.[/list]
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